NTIA waives Buy American rules in broadband stimulus package

Not very patriotic, is it, especially during the week of the Fourth of July? The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the agency charged with administering the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), known to most people as the broadband stimulus package, has granted a limited exception to the Buy American provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for certain types of equipment required in broadband deployments.

People who receive grants to deploy broadband networks from the NTIA (which is releasing its grant guidelines tomorrow) can now buy foreign-made equipment to their hearts’ delight without running afoul of the regulations:

  • Broadband Switching Equipment – Equipment necessary to establish a broadband communications path between two points.
  • Broadband Routing Equipment – Equipment that routes data packets throughout a broadband network.
  • Broadband Transport Equipment – Equipment for providing interconnection within the broadband provider’s network.
  • Broadband Access Equipment – Equipment facilitating the last mile connection to a broadband subscriber.
  • Broadband Customer Premises Equipment and End-User Devices – End-user equipment that connects to a broadband network.
  • Billing/Operations Systems – Equipment that is used to manage and operate a broadband network or offer a broadband service.

“Note that this list does not include fiber optic cables, coaxial cables, cell towers, and other facilities that are produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to be reasonably available as end products. To the extent that an applicant wishes to use equipment that is not covered by this waiver, it may seek a waiver on a case-by-case basis as part of its application for BTOP funds, stating the statutory exemption upon which it is relying and its rationale for receiving a waiver.”

(list above taken from the NTIA notice – please read it here (PDF) in its entirety).

Now you can all relax and drop your flag-waving “Made in the USA” pretensions and get on with the business of rolling out broadband. For this you can thank large American companies’ intense lobbying efforts.

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